I’m convinced we’re living in some type of time warp because I simply cannot believe November starts in a week. But we know it’s fall because pumpkin spice and apple-everything flavors are everywhere.
But if you own a restaurant, hopefully, you’ve already planned your winter menus. Writing in Restaurant SmartBrief, Samantha Des Jardins, the content marketing manager at Datassential, a food and beverage market research company, says November is actually “the month with the most new, returning, and limited-time offer menu introductions.”
Based on historical data, Des Jardins says dessert is the biggest food category for November winter flavor introductions. What are the top traditional favorite flavors? “A wide variety of chocolate and berry pairings, including chocolate-dipped options, Twix, king cake, and raspberry cake.”
But Des Jardins suggests adding an innovative winter dessert option, such as funnel cake fries, to your menus. By including sides of chocolate and/or berry dipping sauces, you combine something new and unexpected with proven favorite flavors.
It’s not just about the sweet, however. Des Jardins says historically, several “savory flavors…such as grilled red onion, cremini mushroom, and serrano pepper index highly on winter menus.” As do “a wide variety of seafood, braised beef, and country sausage.”
Again, to combine old favorites with innovative presentations, Des Jardins suggests restaurant chefs consider adding Birria, a traditional Mexican dish made with goat or beef (though Des Jardins said you can also use chicken) cooked slowly until tender and flavorful to their menus. It’s commonly served as a stew or in tacos. Des Jardins says Birria is “one of the fastest-growing items on menus overall—up 300% over the last four years.”
And don’t forget the spices. Des Jardins says Tajin, a chili-lime seasoning blend, “has soared more than 300% on menus in the last four years.” She also notes that “compound sweet-savory flavors like mango habanero are growing quickly—up 119% in the last four years. Other fast-growing spices include furikake, turmeric, and togarashi.
And, of course, winter means the holidays, and Des Jardins says, “Consumers will always gravitate toward comfort and [traditional] holiday foods in winter flavors, like braised meats and pies.”
The key, says Des Jardins, is to “make your menu trend-forward while still incorporating the classics that consumers crave.”